A Buying Guide For Bicycle Pedals
For road bikes or racing bikes, there are two different types of pedals to be considered. The standard pedal which is the most common pedal and can sometimes be fitted with a toeclip, and the clip in pedals, which allows you to clip in cycling shoes. There are several competing manufacturers of these clip in pedals, includng Shimano, Time and speedplay. Shimanos are nicknamed SPUDS.
Hopefully this guide will help you consider which pedals will fit your cycling habits best. If you are interested in getting the most out of your bike speed wise, you should probably consider clip in pedals. But if you are looking more for general functionality and ease of use, platform pedals might be more suited.
Clip in Pedals (Also known as Clipless Pedals)
Clip in pedals have the significant advantage of allowing you to pull the pedal upwards as well as push it down. However, they can be a little intimidating to first time users. Clip in pedals attach to the shoe via a mechanism on the sole of the shoe that slots into place when you twist your foot on the pedal. This also prevents your foot from bouncing off on rough ground. Some people worry about getting their cycling shoes out of the clips when they want to get off the bike, but a little practice whilst stationary should solve this. You should probably do this before you go riding, and then once you are happy with this, start riding on a grassy field so if you fall off it won’t hurt too much. Some riders like their clipless pedals to be slightly worn out so they are easier to manouevere in and out of, at some point you might need to replace the cleats.
When you are purchasing clipless pedals, it is important to find a clipless system that matches on both the shoe and pedal. Some beginners like to have a bit of platform on the pedal around the clip so they can stand on it even if they haven’t clipped in yet.
The higher end clipless pedals are lighter, use more advanced materials and are often stronger. These might be a better option for serious riders.
Here are some features to look for in clipless pedals:
- Lightweight materials, for less weight to carry up hills
- Dual-sided pedals, so you don’t have to look down at them all the time to slot your foot in.
- A large surface area if you are a beginner and would like an area to stand on.
Standard flat pedals are generally used for low end bikes, but they do have many advantages. Lots of these cycling shoes are also fit for some walking. The cleats that are used to fit the shoe to the pedal are often recessed into the sole and so do not cause a problem.
Standard pedals however, are more suited to casual cyclists and most commuters simply for their ease of use. You don’t need specialist shoes, and you can easily take you feet on and of the pedals regardless of what shoes you are wearing. MKS Sylvan Touring Pedal
Although you can still by toeclips for flat pedals, they are a bit outdated as they can be awkward to get into.
You can also get hybrid pedals like the Shimano Dual Platform Bike Pedals that combine the flexibility of platform pedals with the efficiency of a clipless system. These make for good transition pedals for people looking to try out clipless.
For Mountain Bikes
A platform pedal with a grippy shoe will usually provide ample control and still be easy to get off in the event of a crash.
Many downhill mountain bikers prefer this type of pedal mated with a specifically designed shoe. This combination provides ample grip and control while remaining the easiest to get off of in the event of a crash. While clipless pedals will release in the event of a crash, platform pedals may give you the confidence to help avoid a crash.